The power of software

Learning computer programming changed my life.

I remember I wanted to become a programmer after watching Hackers (so cliché) in the late 90s and later I felt even stronger about it after The Net, a movie with the same thematic but much less “technical”. I’m not making this up when I say my career choice came from watching two Hollywood films 🤷‍♂️.

I don’t remember exactly the time when I watched those movies—it was around 1998 more or less—but I do remember the sudden spike in interest about computers I had that remained uninterrupted since that time, 22 years ago.

In those years, my family was not financially well and we couldn’t afford a computer so I had to wait five years to have a second hand Intel 486 DX2 with 500 MB hard drive, and 32 MB of RAM running Windows 98. In was already 2003 and my first computer was a relic.

I recall it was so old that even Windows 98 ran slow on it not to mention I couldn’t play the newest games my friends were playing so I was stuck with it playing DOS-only games.

That same year, a classmate of mine lent me a Quick Basic book his brother was using at university that I read from cover to cover that same year spending hours and hours writing silly programs that book thought me. I was having the time of my life with that computer and that book.

In 2007 I bought my first laptop—a Dell Vostro 1500—and a year later, in 2008, I was finally able to afford to have an Internet connection at home. It was such an event that I even took a picture of that laptop with Google open to perpetuate that moment in time forever.

My shitty first computer and that book forced me to learn how to code. No Internet access and no games made my only option for entertainment to watch boring TV or to try to do something more interesting out of that boredom. Fortunately, that book was there at the right time and it thought me a skill I was able to monetize later to better my life.

It’s interesting to look back in time connecting the dots to see that something that looked like a misfortune, not to be able to afford a computer, was actually a good thing that made me discover my love for computer programming and computers in general, a profession that I ended up choosing to pursue as a career for the rest of my life.

I’m sharing this story because I believe that everyone should contemplate the idea of learning how to code, but especially the ones coming from unprivileged countries, with no access to good education or struggling financially.

Programming can teach how to think structurally, abstract yourself from a problem, give you a shot at reaching audiences bigger than you can imagine and it has the potential of altering your life for the better in a relatively short period of time.

It takes a long time to be truly good at something so you better start today. The demand for programmers is only growing and 5 years from now you will wish you had started today.